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The ripping point part 1: Where entire industries meet their digital demise

Marie Johnson | July 14, 2016
And why “customer-centric” is a silly strategy

Digital disruption is a 'ripping point', a class 6 rapid just around the corner with extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger

Digital disruption is a 'ripping point', a class 6 rapid just around the corner with extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger

Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference", published in 2000, has served us well as a descriptor of how sociological changes occur, and can be manipulated, to sell concepts and products.

The rise of the internet and later digital technologies has greatly enhanced our ability to cause, as Gladwell describes, "ideas and products and messages and behaviours [to] spread like viruses" for commercial or other gains.

Many businesses have since disappeared because of digital and other technologies used to create tipping points and it could be seen to be safe to assume that this trend will continue unabated.

Savvy businesses look to create and leverage their own tipping points, and strive to avoid disadvantageous tipping points that can damage their own business.

This is the first in a series of articles that will examine why true digital disruption is no longer just a 'tipping point' that might be seen in the distance on the river and can be safely negotiated with a few casual strokes of an oar.

Rather it is a 'ripping point', a 'class 6 rapid' just around the corner with extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. Just as tipping points are centred on sociological changes our proposed ripping points are centred on technological convergence.

Furthermore, we believe that entire classes of industry are at risk from these ripping points, not just the less prepared businesses within those industries.

Our dystopian stance is deliberate.

A "customer-centric" strategy is the first indicator of an industry or organisation facing a ripping point horizon. It's a simplistic and silly strategy in the digital age - a misguided view giving the impression that the organisation actually has control of whatever it means by "customer-centric".

The power is with the customer - it never was with the organisation. Customer-centric is irrelevant if customers don't trust you, and question the value that is delivered.

Trust in institutions - big banks, retail, professional services organisations, membership bodies, governments and so on - has been severely eroded by repeated failures, rigidity and complexity in the eyes of the customer.

"Customers" have gone back to the old ways - trusting their neighbours and friends for information and recommendations, good and services. The only difference is that digital drastically extends the size of your neighbourhood.

The simplistic notion of "customer-centric" fails to comprehend the convergence of organic ripping point forces and their influence on the entire customer experience.

 

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